Does the reality of life often fail to meet your expectations? Pastor Chip Ingram encourages husbands and wives to look closely at their expectations and even consider downsizing them in order to better love their spouses.
Does the reality of life often fail to meet your expectations? Pastor Chip Ingram encourages husbands and wives to look closely at their expectations and even consider downsizing them in order to better love their spouses.
Bob: Let me ask you two questions about how you handle your anger. First of all, do you think it’s healthy? Secondly, are you providing a good model for your children of how you think they ought to handle anger as they grow up? Chip Ingram remembers teaching on this subject once and addressing that issue with a woman in the audience.
Chip: A lady was there—late 70s. She said, “I’m a stuffer,” and she said: “My husband was a spewer, and I stuffed it for 52 years. Now, I have four sons that are spewers; and because I didn’t step up and didn’t address it, it got passed on to my kids. It ruined my life, and now I’m watching them ruin their families.”
The issue isn’t just: “Can you handle it?” There is a family system that’s being developed. You have to address this because, if you don’t, the consequences are not going to go away. They just get multiplied.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Friday, March 28th. Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. How you handle your anger will affect your relationship with God; your relationship with others; and it will even model, for good or for ill, that the next generation will likely follow. Stay tuned.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us. Is this okay to do? We have been talking about anger this week. While we’ve been talking, I’ve been remembering something I read about anger from somebody else’s book. I mean, we got Chip Ingram right here. We’ve been talking about the book he wrote; and all of a sudden, I thought of something that was in somebody else’s book. Is it okay to read from somebody else’s book?
Dennis: Hey, go for it!
Bob: Is it going to make Chip angry?
Dennis: No, I don’t think so.
Chip: I will say: “I quote that later in my book. That’s excellent; and if I didn’t, I should have.” [Laughter]
Bob: Do you want to introduce Chip before I read this?
Dennis: Well, I was getting ready to say: “It depends on who you quote,”—
Bob: That’s a good point!
Dennis: —if it’s somebody Chip likes, you know—
Bob: This is John Piper. Is that okay?—you good with that?
Dennis: Alright; here we go.
Bob: John Piper, in a book that he wrote, called What Jesus Demands from the World, he said, “No one decides to get angry.” He said: “We don’t see an outrageous act of heartless cruelty and injustice and then ponder whether anger would be a good response. And then, after consideration, choose to start feeling the proper level of anger. Nobody lives that way. Anger happens. It’s spontaneous. It’s not a rational choice. It’s an unpremeditated experience.”
I thought: “Well, that’s right! We don’t decide to get angry. We get angry, and then decide what to do with it”; right?
Chip: Yes and no.
Bob: Okay! Alright; let me get Dr. Piper on the line and—no, I’m kidding.
Chip: No, I think yes and no. I think there are certain things—it is an emotive response; but I think if we say that, “I don’t have control of my anger,”—if I’m interpreting it as it is unpremeditated—“It just comes upon me; therefore, I am not responsible,”—
Dennis: I agree with that.
Chip: —then you’re in trouble.
Chip: Example—are you ready?
Bob: Okay! Alright!
Chip: Am I interrupting you?
Bob: No, go ahead please.
Chip: Are you frustrated with me?
Bob: Go ahead. I’m fine.
Chip: Are you okay with this?
Bob: I’m really okay. [Deep breathing sounds]
Chip: Okay. Who hasn’t had an argument with your wife or really going at it with one of your kids on some sort of issue and then the phone rings? You pick up the phone. It goes something like this: You hold up your hand [Softened voice]: “Oh, yes…yes. You know what? I would love to do that and make that golf date,” or, “I’ll talk to my wife and see if I can get that schedule, and we’ll get right back to you.” Then, you put down the phone; right? And then it is [Louder voice]: “What did I tell you—
Bob: You get right back into it! [Laughter]
Chip: about driving my car out that late!”
So, we have the ability to turn it on and turn it off.
I want to remind people: “Anger is a choice; but the emotions that blow up out of us, I agree, are not things you sit around thinking, ‘Am I going to get angry?’”
Bob: I’ll just go on. John Piper says: “What Jesus demands is not that we master the expressions of our anger with self-control, though that often is what duty requires. He demands that there be a change in our condition. He is calling for a deep inward transformation of mind and heart that does not give rise to anger we should not have.”
Chip: I have to say I totally agree with that.
Bob: There you go.
Chip: Dr. Piper—way to go!
Bob: It really forces us down. You talked about this already this week—when we see the red light on the dashboard / when the anger comes up—what we have to do is say, “Time for a deep sea diving expedition into our soul,” and say, “What is going on here?”
Dennis: As we talked about this week and you’ve shared out of your own life—anger, as that secondary emotion, occurs many times in marriage because expectations are not met.
Dennis: Let’s go back to this young couple that we’ve talked about earlier. You’re giving them a vocabulary to be able to handle anger in marriage. What would you say to them, Chip, about unmet expectations, and how they begin to deal with their heart issue, like John Piper was talking about, as they go through life together?
Chip: I would like to tell them that having the wrong expectations or not being aware of what your expectations are—a lot of people, when they’re angry—they do not have any idea that it is an expectation issue.
I would open the Bible and say, “Let me share with you a story: 2 Kings, Chapter 5, verses 11-12. It was a fellow who was told that there is a prophet from Israel that could heal his leprosy. So, he goes to this prophet. He was hoping that he would say some very profound words and heal him on the spot. Instead, he said: ‘I want you to go down the Jordan River, and wash, and dip seven times. God will heal you.’”
Bob: This was Naaman?
Bob: And he was kind of a big shot; wasn’t he?
Chip: Very, very big shot.
Bob: So, he is expecting the royal treatment—not the dip-in-the-river thing.
Chip: Yes. So, his expectations are: “I will be treated with royalty”; because he didn’t, it says he turned and went away in a rage. Fortunately, he had a servant that said: “Hey Boss, if he asked you to do something hard, you probably would have done it. Why don’t we just go ahead and go down to the Jordan and see how it works.” Of course, he is healed.
But how many couples?—in my marriage, for example—my father-in-law kept the cars spotless—filled with gas and repaired. I don’t know anything about cars; but when I didn’t do that, my wife got angry with me. Well, every couple has that. I mean—everything from: “Whose family are we going to visit?”—expectations. “How many children are we going to have?”—expectations.
Now, there needs to be a lot of give and take there; but at the end of the day, I have to ask: “So why did God bring us together?
“What is our joint venture, together, to honor Him?” and, “Which part are just these invisible expectations—that it’s not wrong—but it’s different than what I expected?”
“I had no idea that my filling the car up with gas was giving you heartburn for the last ten years,” —you know? That’s not a big deal to solve. It doesn’t make sense to me—it doesn’t make sense, at all—but guess what? I have chosen, out of love, to fill our car with gas. I think you can downsize in terms of: “What does it mean to say, ‘I love you’?— and that, sometimes, you have to just compromise.
Dennis: And other times, you have to pull back and listen to your own language that you are using with your spouse—the little litany you ran through used the word “me” 3 times in less than 15 seconds.
Chip: Well, I would hate to go to him as a counselor. [Laughter]
Dennis: Well, it’s not that; but truthfully—if you’re getting married and it’s all about you—
Chip: You got it.
Dennis: —you got real problems there because biblical marriage, as God designed it, demands self-denial; and it does demand some downsizing.
I want to go to the person, though, who is in a marriage relationship where anger is really problematic. It’s not just little unmet expectations—it’s someone who is using anger in an abusive fashion. How would you coach—let’s say a wife—if she is married to a man who is violent in his anger—and takes it out on the kids / takes it out on her. What would you encourage her to do?
Chip: I would want to do some real careful asking of questions to find out: “How long is this going on? When you say violent, what’s that actually look like? Is this—I mean, physically hitting people? Is it throwing things?”
Dennis: Maybe, emotionally-abusive.
Chip: Sure. In those kinds of situations—usually, one person, starts withdrawing, withdrawing, withdrawing—and then talks to a friend, or is ashamed to talk to someone. I think the first thing is to say, “This is a problem.” Then, “Where do I go for help?”
If you—have multiple times, not in an angry way, but said: “Honey, I love you. This is an issue. I feel afraid when you explode in anger. I feel concern for our children when you act in this way and what it is going to produce.” If you can get some buy-in and get some help, that’s step one.
Often, that doesn’t bring about a lot of solutions. Sometimes, you have to say—okay, if there are safety issues, I think we need to tell people very directly: “I do not believe in divorce. I don’t think God ever wants a divorce; but if there are safety issues and people are actually being physically harmed, there certainly can be wisdom in separating.”
I always encourage people: “You go to your pastor. You get all the chips on the table. You get support. You only separate for the purpose of the restoration of the marriage and taking some drastic steps to get things back together.”
Bob: Let me ask, because a spouse may be thinking: “Okay, if I sit down with my husband tonight and say this is how I feel, and this is what happens, he is going to get angry.”
Bob: “I’m picking the scab. He is going to explode. I’ve seen it happen before.”
Then, you might say, “Well, have a friend come over and be with you—maybe, one of his friends.” “If I do that, then he’ll get really angry because now he’s being exposed!”
This person feels like, “I can’t blow the whistle on this anger without it getting worse and me feeling even more threatened than I feel right now.”
Bob: “It’s manageable now; but if I bring it out in the open, then it’s going to become unmanageable. What do I do?”
Chip: That’s where a lot of people find themselves. The question I would ask—sort of in the words of Dr. Phil—is: “How is what you’re doing now working for you?”
Chip: “Do you want the next 30 years like this?” Sometimes, in fact, spewers control for that very reason. Sometimes, it’s just an explosion. There are some spewers—it is very calculated. They are controlling and manipulating kids and wife—or husband—this goes both directions.
At some point, you have to “under control”—a gentle answer turns away wrath.
Get that out on the table, and it’s not going to go away. Then, you have to go get the help that you need.
Dennis: I don’t think sweeping it or denying it and pretending it’s going to get any better is a solution.
Bob: You have to have some kind of a strategic confrontation wakeup call in the relationship with a spewer; don’t you think?
Dennis: I think so. I think, as Chip talked about, you really strategically have to take a step back and get your powder dry to know exactly how you’re going to handle this. If he doesn’t respond—or she doesn’t respond—when you’ve done it this way, then you know what your next step is.
Chip: In fact, I would say you need to have your next step all lined-up in advance because it could be a very negative situation. You don’t want to think: “Now, I wonder who I am going to talk to,” or, “What will I do?” or, “Do I need to be in a hotel for two nights?” All that needs to be addressed.
I’ll tell you a story that’s helpful here. We created a small group DVD from this to go with the book. I taught at the Billy Graham Center so we could video it. A lady was there—late 70s. She came up to me; and she said: “When you started talking the first night, I thought, ‘Oh brother, we are going to talk about anger. I don’t have any anger problems whatsoever; and why did I come to this whole weekend? It’s going to be a complete waste!’”
She later told me—she said, “By about session four,” she said, “‘I’m a stuffer.’” She said: “My husband was a spewer. I stuffed it for 52 years; and now, I have four sons that are spewers. And because I didn’t step up and didn’t address it, it got passed on to my kids. It ruined my life, and now I’m watching them ruin their families.” The lights came on.
So, I would say to someone: “The issue isn’t just: ‘Can you handle it?’ There is a family system that’s being developed; and you have to address this because, if you don’t, the consequences are not going to go away. They just get multiplied.”
Bob: Add to that: “This is your brother in Christ—or your sister in Christ—who is in rebellion against God. ‘If you see a brother caught in a trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one with the spirit of gentleness.’” There is a command to us to get intentionally involved in one another’s lives. If you have a husband or a wife who is a spewing, angry husband or wife, you have a responsibility to boldly love that person by saying, “I am not going to enable this kind of ongoing sin in your life.”
Dennis: I’m thinking, Bob, of Chip here—who shared on an earlier broadcast that, when you were confronted, you didn’t have a vocabulary to handle this.
Dennis: I really want to re-emphasize this because I think some people come from homes where emotions were never labeled. What they have going on in their souls is a bunch of emotional gunk, that is just all wrapped around the axle of the heart, and they don’t know what anger is. They don’t know what worry is. They don’t know what some of the emotions are that they are experiencing. So, to be confronted with it—they’re going: “I am not angry! What do you mean me, angry?!”
Chip: That’s right. That’s right.
Dennis: So back towhat you said about the spirit of gentleness and meekness—it has to be an invitation to a real relationship with a real person.
Chip: A very specific way that is safe—and I hope this won’t be heard as an attempt to sell books or this or that. I’ve just got a lot of feedback of people in situations like this who—a safe way was—they got the book, and they started reading it, and they said: “You know what? I’m learning that I stuff my anger.”
In other words—so, instead of addressing the spewer and the big issue: “I’ve learned I stuff my anger. This has really been helpful,” and maybe taking a little bit more responsibility that anger is a mutual issue. Then, saying: “You know what? Would you be interested in looking at this?” What that does is—that someone, other than them, begins to speak into their life.
That’s why you all create resources—it’s a tool to get into the hearts of people when often a lot of us—I felt, if I wouldn’t have gotten help, I couldn’t have solved it. I didn’t have the vocabulary. I didn’t know I was angry. I needed someone to sit down to say: “Chip, write on a 3x5 card and put it on the refrigerator. Chip—on expectations—what you need to say is, ‘I desire this instead of demand it.’” Demand is an expectation.
That sounds real simple, but I had to practice it. Like you—now, after about 25 years of practice—it’s like—it’s not like we never get angry; but it’s like: “Wow! God’s Word really works!” and your hearts are connected most of the time.
Bob: Tell our listeners about the time that somebody recorded a conversation he had with you—and what that did to you.
Chip: Oh my! I just want you to know that, if you’re listening, there is another program that you can hear some other time where I talk about positive things in my life other than living on the edge. I just come here—where we do therapeutic work—and I tell all the worse things I’ve ever done in my whole life. [Laughter]
Dennis: And you get tagged—
Bob and Dennis: —Dr. Anger!
Chip: Dr. Love! Dr. Angry!
Dennis: Yes, there you go! There you go!
Chip: I won’t go into all the details; but the dynamic of the conversation was—someone was very upset with me, and had assumed, and thought that I was working behind the scenes to do something that was destructive to some people he cared about in a ministry situation.
He said: “Hey, I tell you what. I call you tonight because I’m real busy.” It was kind of weird. I learned later that the whole reason was to set something up. Then, he called me, recorded the conversation, and baited me with numbers of questions to try and get me to say something so that he could play it to a different group.
Oh, man! I mean—I wasn’t mad—I was livid! I was—I don’t even know how to describe it.
Dennis: Yes; yes, we can see it on your face, right now!
Chip: I got depressed! I mean, I didn’t know how to deal with it. My stomach was churning, and my heart was hurting. Finally, I was having lunch with a fellow pastor. I was telling him how I was going to really deal with all this, and I’d written this thing out.
He goes, “Let me see it.” He read it and said, “I don’t think I would send that.” I said “So, what do you mean?! It’s just—it’s right.” “I don’t think I’d send that until the reason you would send it is that you want to love him, and restore him, and bring about healing in that relationship.” I was like: “Give me a break! Healing the relationship?! Don’t you understand? You know I went in—”
He said: “Chip, what’s attacked here—more than anything else—is your pride.
“You’re afraid of how you’re going to look. What you’re protecting is your pride and your reputation. What he punched is your insecurity. Now, you know this guy and those other people know you. Do you think God is big enough to handle this situation and can you entrust it to Him?”
He said: “Now, write a letter that says exactly what he did. Then, write in the next paragraph how you feel. Then, when you mean it—on the bottom of that letter—write very specific that you forgive him. I want you to put that in your briefcase. When you get to the point where you can send that, and know that you love that man—then send it.”
Well, it was in my briefcase for a very long time. What he hit me with was that I began to understand so much of my anger is when my insecurity, and those kinds of issues, and I never sent the letter. I remember just throwing it away and realizing, “It’s resolved.” The issue was, you know: “Do we always have to defend ourselves?—
“how we appear / how people can make us look—really is sometimes a pretty proud issue.”
Dennis: We’re all terribly insecure. We would like to come across with bravado that we got life wired together. The issue is we do get hurt. People hurt us. If we are not careful, we can nurse the hurts—and we can end up staying angry and staying mad at a person. It can turn from anger into pure bitterness and resentment—and that’s corrosive. That’ll eat the inside of your heart up.
Chip: I couldn’t pray for three days. I mean—I tried, and I couldn’t get through. I never made the connection—I mean—I was so livid and bitter; and I couldn’t figure out why “Gosh, I don’t feel very close to God.” You’d think a pastor could figure that one out!
Chip: Your right! You’re just exactly right.
Dennis: I think the question that I just want to conclude the broadcast—by asking here: “Who is there in your life—who has really made you angry?” Now, have you got the person’s name that has most wounded you, or disappointed you, or hurt you, or wounded you, or abused you?
Your assignment is to open the Book—and I’d encourage you to go to Ephesians, Chapter 4, and begin to make your way through that whole chapter. Begin to apply the Scripture there that, ultimately, challenges you to give up the right to punish them and to forgive them—“just as God in Christ has forgiven you.” That person may be your spouse. It may be a parent who abused you, growing up. It may be a brother / a sister who wounded you.
The issue is: Biblically, we can’t let the sun go down on our anger. I think what the Scripture is really commanding us there—we have got to start to deal with it, and we have to deal with God, and we have to address the issues of our hearts and forgive.
Dennis: Chip, I want to thank you for your book, and just for speaking the truth in love, but also being authentic. It may have ruined your reputation, here on the broadcast, by sharing so many stories about how you dealt with your emotion; but actually, it has moved you up a notch, in terms of our audience, in respecting you and just being grateful that you’re a real person that they can relate to—and, also, shared with them how you’ve applied the Scripture in your life.
Chip: Well, it’s great to be with you guys. Thanks!
Bob: I think, actually, your transparency in your book is one of the things that makes it so helpful because I think people can relate to the stories that you share. I just appreciate the honesty. I mean, we’ve already heard, this week, from a lot of folks who’ve contacted us and have asked for a copy of your book.
Of course, we have it in our FamilyLife Today Resource Center. If a listener’s interested, they can go to FamilyLifeToday.com and order, online. The title of the book is Overcoming Emotions that Destroy. The author is Chip Ingram. You can go to FamilyLifeToday.com to request a copy; or you can call 1-800-FL-TODAY—1-800-358-6329. That is: 1-800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then, the word, “TODAY.” Ask about Chip Ingram’s book, Overcoming Emotions that Destroy.
Now, a quick word of thanks to those of you who—this month—have heard us talking about our goal of trying to enlist a thousand new families, all around the country, to join with us as new Legacy Partners for FamilyLife Today.
Legacy Partners help provide the stable financial foundation for this ministry to help us cover the cost of producing and syndicating this daily radio program. Many of you, this month, have stepped forward. We’re hoping, here in the last couple of days of the month, to reach our goal of a thousand new families. Today would be a great day for you to call; or go online, and sign up, and say, “I want to be a Legacy Partner.” You can go to FamilyLifeToday.com. Click the button that says, “I CARE,” and sign on as a Legacy Partner there; or call 1-800-FL-TODAY and say, “I’m interested in becoming a Legacy Partner.”
When you enroll, we’re going to send you the Legacy Partner welcome kit. It has the brand-new Legacy Partner Cookbook in it—with recipes from the Raineys, from the Lepines, from our staff, and from Legacy Partners, all across the country. So, we hope to hear from you. Hope you will pray about becoming a monthly contributor to FamilyLife Today, and sign on as a new Legacy Partner.
We hope you have a great weekend. Hope you and your family are able to worship together this weekend. And I hope you can join us back on Monday, when we’re going to talk about Easter. It’s coming up in a few weeks. We want to help you get ready and help you share the Easter story with everyone in your family—even people in your neighborhood. We’re going to talk about why Easter really matters. That’s coming up Monday. So, I hope you can be with us for that.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, and our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine. We will see you back Monday for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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